It has been noted repeatedly that in the current conditions of autarky
, those who are guaranteed a minimum income in the form of old-age pensions feel more stable than other groups.
Since the conflict started, a new segmentation of the Russian population appeared, tied to where people live: “warring Russia,” “metropolitan Russia,” “deep Russia” and “emigrant Russia.” In the array of collected data, we can distinguish (of course, approximately) the first three groups: residents of borderlands, residents of the capital (and metropolitan Russia ) and the rest of the country.
There are no noticeable differences between “warring” and “deep” Russia, but Muscovites do assess changes in their financial situation more negatively than others. The share of those noting a deterioration is significantly higher than in other regions (38% and 32-33%, respectively). These results partly confirm the conclusions of specialists in Russian economic geography
that the downturn brought on by the conflict hit service-sector workers and residents of large cities hardest.
Among the various occupational groups, entrepreneurs and the self-employed feel better off than others. A third of them note a worsening situation (33%), while one in five (20%) said their well-being has improved.
Public- and private-sector workers are both basically in line with the national average. Non-working pensioners are the least likely to note improvements in their well-being (6%), though the share of those who suffered financial losses, according to their own estimates, does not differ from the national average (33%).
Thus, 2023 was a more successful year for the economically active population of the country than for its non-working groups.Backward-looking personal well-being index
The ratio of the share of those whose financial situation improved over the last year versus the share of those whose situation worsened can be considered an integrated assessment of changes in well-being. If the value of the indicator is equal to one, this indicates equal positive and negative assessments of changes. An index value less than one indicates a predominance of negative assessments, while a value greater than one indicates a predominance of positive ones.
We call this indicator the “backward-looking personal well-being index.” The national average for the index was 0.42, meaning the share of those who saw a deterioration in their financial situation was double the share of those who believe that their financial situation had improved. Among men and women, the index is approximately the same, at 0.46 and 0.38, respectively, but across age groups, on the contrary, it varies greatly: from 0.84 among young people to 0.20 among pre-retirees.
The researchers asked Russians the same question about assessing changes in their financial situation at the end of February 2022 – on the third and fourth days of hostilities – then in August 2022 and September 2023. Traditionally, at the end of winter and beginning of spring, Russians assess their well-being more negatively than in other periods.
At the end of February 2022, 17% of Russians reported that their financial situation had improved from a year before, 31% saw a deterioration and 52% claimed that no significant changes had occurred. In August 2022, the respective shares were 13%, 35% and 52%.
Thus, whereas in the first six months of the conflict Russians began to feel worse – the index decreased from 0.54 in February to 0.38 in August – over the 13 months from August 2022, the index has practically not changed, suggesting that the population as a whole has adapted to the new economic reality. However, analysis of different population groups reveal significant changes.
Differences in index values across social groups show that the impact of the economic downturn was uneven and asynchronous.
Among older Russians at the beginning of the special operation, the index was higher than other groups before steadily declining (from 0.64 to 0.46 to 0.27). At the beginning of the conflict, they likely felt more protected, but over time, probably due to rising prices, this sense dissipated.
Among young people, the dynamics are completely different. At the beginning of the special operation, they noted a tangible deterioration in their well-being (index value: 0.53), but over time young people – who generally adapt to change more easily than older generations – felt that the new circumstances and restrictions were not so drastic and that they could adapt (index value of 0.63 in August 2022 and 0.84 in September 2023).
Intermediate age groups saw more complex dynamics: in August 2022, the index for them decreased before rising in September 2023.